While it may be hard to believe, it is possible to indulge in your favorite holiday dishes without the fear of unnecessary weight gain. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanza or Christmas, every family has their traditional holiday meals. With a little bit of planning, you can reward your taste buds without punishing your body.
As the host, follow these simple tips and your guests will not even notice the missing fat and calories in your delicious recipes:
The first step of your holiday party is meal planning:
- Take advantage of fresh winter vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts and carrots. Consider making a big bowl of vegetable soup, a tasty platter of roasted vegetables or a whole-grain pasta dish loaded with veggies. One of my go-to winter dishes is a hearty roasted vegetable soup.
- Don’t forget about the wide array of fresh fruits available during the winter season including apples, cranberries, pomegranates and pears. Add color to your salad or create a mouth-watering dessert by including any of these fruits! One of my favorite fruit infused salads combines pomegranates and gorgonzola cheese with a light champagne vinaigrette for a delicious appetizer.
Transform your classic holiday recipes into healthy ones with these simple substitutions:
- Use two egg whites to replace one whole egg to lower the cholesterol.
- Replace some of the oil, margarine or butter with applesauce in baked goods like muffins and quick breads to decrease the fat content.
- Try low-fat versions of dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and sour cream.
As the guest, enjoy your favorite dishes without overindulging:
- Never arrive at a holiday party on an empty stomach! Be sure to eat a healthy snack made up of fruit, vegetables and hummus, or low-fat yogurt before you head to an event. As a result, you will not be as tempted to stuff yourself with appetizers as soon as you walk through the door.
- Before you dig in, survey all of the food options. Fill up on healthy choices like salads, soups, lean meats, whole-grains and vegetables. Then, decide which less healthy dishes you absolutely want to enjoy and take a small portion of each (i.e. cheesy appetizers, steak, creamy mashed potatoes, apple pie, etc).
- Socialize! Enjoy your conversations and eat slowly. If possible, try to sit far away from your favorite dishes so you are not as tempted to grab unnecessary second helpings.
The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. Food, family and friends—what could be better? While this season may be packed with celebrations and holiday cheer, remember that there is no need to pack on the pounds. Use these tips to start your New Year’s resolution before the ball drops!